Hold onto your flying bison, folks, because Avatar: The Last Airbender is making a live-action comeback on Netflix, and it’s stirring up more excitement than a pot of Uncle Iroh’s best tea. First announced in the distant past of September 2018, this reimagined version of the beloved animated series (2005–2008) has fans and skeptics alike sharpening their keyboards for the inevitable debates.
Showrunner Albert Kim, who probably drew the short straw to adapt such a fan-favorite, is steering this ship with an ensemble cast that includes Gordon Cormier, Dallas Liu, Kiawentiio, and Ian Ousley. Oh, and let’s not forget Daniel Dae Kim, because who better to play a fire-spewing tyrant than everyone’s favorite Lost actor?
Set to premiere on February 22, 2024, with eight episodes, the series promises a war-torn world where bending elements is as common as posting on Instagram. Aang, the last living Airbender and a 12-year-old monk, is the only one capable of stopping the Fire Nation’s world domination plans. With his friends Katara and Sokka, Aang sets off to master the elements and bring balance to the world. Easy peasy, right?
The cast is as varied as the bending styles in the show. We’ve got Cormier as Aang, the frozen-in-time airbender with more responsibilities than a tax accountant in April. Kiawentiio plays Katara, the last waterbender from her tribe, who has more depth than her tribe’s frozen tundra. Ousley portrays Sokka, Katara’s brother, who compensates for his lack of bending with a boomerang and quick wit. And Liu steps into the brooding boots of Prince Zuko, tasked with capturing the Avatar to restore his lost honor – teenage angst much?
Then there’s Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as General Iroh, who hopefully brings the same level of tea appreciation and wisdom as his animated counterpart. And let’s not forget Daniel Dae Kim as Fire Lord Ozai, because if you’re going to cast someone as the big bad, why not choose the guy who’s voiced characters in both Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra? The series comes after the creators of the original animated show, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, bid adieu over creative differences. In a move that shocked absolutely no one, Netflix said, “No worries, we got this.” Albert Kim then came on board, bringing a promise of authenticity and a “this is not going to be like the movie” vibe.
Filming for the series took place in Vancouver, where they hopefully managed to capture the essence of a world divided into four nations without the actual elemental bending, because CGI can only do so much. And speaking of CGI, DNEG is handling the visual effects, so expect some high-flying, element-slinging action.
The music score, initially set to be composed by Jeremy Zuckerman from the original series, is now in the capable hands of Takeshi Furukawa. Let’s hope he’s up to the task of making us feel like we’re riding Appa through the skies.
With a budget that makes even the Fire Nation’s war expenses look modest, each episode reportedly cost more than $15 million to make. That’s a lot of cabbages, which, by the way, James Sie, the voice of the Cabbage Merchant from the animated series, is reprising in a life-action role. Talk about dedication to your produce.
So, grab your gliders and set your Netflix reminders for February 2024. Whether Avatar: The Last Airbender will soar like a sky bison or sink like a rock remains to be seen. But one thing’s for sure – it’s going to be a ride as wild as a trip through the Earth Kingdom’s Omashu delivery system.